There's something about an airport that gives me an incomparable feeling of comfort.
It may very well be due to the fact that I've spent a large portion of my life in airports. I've been in airports in Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Charleston, St. Louis, Bangkok, Beijing, Tokyo, Stuttgart, and many other small cities that I've probably forgotten, and I've flown at least 11 times in my life. And if there's one thing in my life that I am grateful for, it's the fact that I've had the chance to become well-acquainted with the airport.
I love airports. They are the main reason why I love flying. Airports are metropolises of mysteries, constantly alive with the hustle and bustle of thousands of people going to hundreds and hundreds of destinations to do things. You can see anybody in an airport: men on Blackberries carrying laptop bags and wearing tailored suits, teenage males with glasses and a backpack holding large art portfolios, mothers ushering crowds of noisy children frazzledly towards the gate, middle-eastern men with long robes and beards and a large cross dangling from their necks, camo-clad soldiers walking straight-backed down the long stretches of conveyor belt moving across the ground. An airport is heaven for people-watchers like myself.
Where are you going, stranger, and what is your life like? Are you going on a business trip or a vacation? Are you going back home to your family after being at war? Are you off to explore the length of the Nile, or to peruse the depths of the Amazon? Did you leave your wife and children to start a new life far away on the other side of the earth? Are you flying to escape just like I am?
What's your story?
An airport is an imagination-port.
Of the few times that I've traveled alone, I've had the pleasure of sitting by a couple very interesting people. I sat by a Greek business man on one trip, and we discussed globalization and languages and marketing the entire short flight up. On another flight, I sat by a lady going to a yoga convention. She was reading a book called "100 Ways to Get His Attention", and she was 38. She thought I was in my mid-twenties, and upon finding out my real age, told me to go model in New York.
I think the ultimate reason why I am so drawn to an airport is because there is hardly another place on earth where every single person in the place has a sure and concrete sense of direction in his or her life, even if it's just for a few short hours.
So whenever I feel slightly lost or unsure of where I'm going in my life, I take a trip to the airport and sit down for a little while. I soak up the busy atmosphere of certainty laced with mystery. I soak up the excitement, the low drones of quiet chatter around me, the smell of coffee.
And from the wall-sized windowpanes, I watch the planes race down the runway, hoping that whatever ambiguity that is present in my life will take off on the next flight.